Interview: Israel’s Danny Danon positive about Palestinian peace, says Biden should be tougher on Iran
Former Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon urged President Biden Wednesday not to appease Iran and called for tougher changes to force Iran to adhere to a new nuclear arms agreement.
Danon, who is the chairman of World Likud, the political party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also urged the Palestinian leadership to engage in face-to-face peace talks, saying there is room for a Palestinian state.
Appearing on The Ray Hanania Show broadcasting on the US Arab Radio Network, Danon called Iran a threat and said it would be better if the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), were scrapped.
“We know that Iran is a threat. A threat to Israel. To the Middle East. To the stability of the world. The second assumption I want to make, that the agreement that was signed in 2015 was a bad agreement, the JCPOA,” Danon said.
“Today it is not better, it is even worse. Now the question is what will the US do? I hope the new administration will not re-enter the JCPOA as it is, without any amendments. That would be bad. That would be a sign the administration is trying to appease the Iranians.”
In a wide-ranging radio interview, Danon said that if the JCPOA is not scrapped, then the agreement should be amended.
“The second option is they would try to improve the agreement. And if they would try to do that, we have a few ideas of what should be improved in the agreement,” Danon said.
“The inspections. The ballistic missile test. The sunset clause. The billions of dollars they give to proxies and promote terrorism. We would be able to walk with the US on that. But still it’s not clear whether Biden is willing to push for amendment or whether he is willing to go back to the agreement.”
Danon said that the sanctions on Iran are the only reason why Iran is negotiating. He said Biden and the European nations should not let their guard down with Iran, arguing that any easing of sanctions would embolden Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon.
“You cannot say that the sanctions didn’t help. The reason that they are negotiating today is because of the sanctions. I think we should continue with the sanctions against the regime,” Danon said.
“On the other end, they play for the long run. We look at cycles of four years. President Trump. President Biden. Prime Minister Netanyahu. They look for the long run and that is why they are so dangerous.”
Danon said Israel supports a Palestinian state, but he cautioned that any agreement or final borders must all be negotiated face-to-face between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
“We think we should negotiate directly with the Palestinians Eventually it will have to be both sides entering the room and talking directly to each other,” Danon said.
“But you need a leader for that. I don’t think President Abbas is the right leader. I think he wants to finish his term in history not being the one who is actually signing the agreement or actually making the compromises. It is unfortunate because we are going to have to wait for the next generation to emerge and hopefully negotiate on that.”
Danon pointed to the negotiations conducted between Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin as an example of how peace can be achieved through compromise and mutual respect.
“Four years after a bloody war that we had in 1973, Anwar Sadat landed in Israel, approached the Israeli parliament and we believed him. We believed that he was a partner,” Dannon said.
Asked if he supports a Palestinian state, Danon said, “My goal is to give as much freedom as possible to the Palestinian people without risking the well-being and security of the Israelis. So, the question is where you draw the line.
“I think it is not a problem of land. I am very familiar with the land in Judea and Samaria. I can tell you — I just traveled there last week with my family — the majority of the land in Judea and Samaria is vacant. It is desert. There is nothing there. It is not a problem that we are actually fighting over land. There is a place for the Palestinians. There is a place for the Jews. It is more about recognition. It is more about actually recognizing the fact that both sides will stay here and eventually we will have to work together.”
During the radio interview broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network on WNZK AM 690 in Detroit and WDMV AM 700 in Washington D.C., Danon said that he believes the Abraham Accords negotiated by former President Donald Trump can serve as a blueprint for peace throughout the Middle East, including with the Palestinians.
“I think it is an important step in the right direction. I think it will help the process. Eventually it will help the Palestinians to take tough decisions,” Danon said.
“I personally believe that when we start negotiating with the Palestinians, we should have those leaders in the room. We should think about regional challenges and regional opportunities. The Palestinians are here, we are here to stay. We have to learn to live together to work together. But I do believe that the presence of other moderate leaders in the process can be helpful.”
But Danon said he fears Palestinian elections which are scheduled to be held on May 22 for the Palestinian Legislative Council and on July 31 for the Palestinian presidency will be dominated by Hamas, which is accused of engaging in terrorism and violence to undermine a comprehensive peace accord and will eventually control the Occupied West Bank territories, in addition to the Gaza Strip where it is now based.
“Actually, I have a feeling that Hamas will be able to take over. It happened in the past during the election. It can happen again. I am not involved and we are not interfering in the process,” Danon said.
“But you see there are a few factions in the PA coming from the Fatah side and Hamas is running with one list. I don’t know what will happen there but the last thing we want to see is Hamas taking over Judea and Samaria.”
Danon also offered greetings for Ramadan, saying, “I want to take this opportunity and wish a Ramadan Kareem, a Happy Ramadan to all of my colleagues from all around the world.”
For more information on The Ray Hanania Show, visit ArabNews.com.